If you follow me on Instagram, you will have probably seen that I've just launched a Patreon. This isn't your normal Patreon, but will become a community-funded yarn project where I collect money from community members in order to offer low-to-no cost yarn for low-income makers. Come join us here!
I hosted a livestream on Instagram this morning where I talked through this idea in its very early stages. I'm going to recap that conversation here, open up comments for feedback and suggestions, and I will include edits at the bottom of the post as I incorporate new ideas or change language to be more inclusive.
Ok! So the live started out with me awkwardly showing my face, saying hello, and taking everyone for a tour of my parents' lovely backyard. Here's a picture so you can feel like you were there too. Isn't it just so dreamy?
....Back on track. I started off the live by first commenting on the fact that I do not in any way claim ownership over this idea. I'm sure many have thought of something similar in the past, people will come up with similar ideas in the future, and the world could always use more yarn! So if you are taking notes and see something that I'm doing that you think could work for your business (or maybe you'd even like to collaborate??), all ideas are totally fair game.
So what is Patreon?
For those that haven't used the platform before, Patreon gives the option for you to pledge a payment of a particular amount of money every month to a business or artist. I have created a variety of tiers including various rewards for you to choose from. (Note: I would love some feedback on the tier amounts I've chosen. Should I add more options for smaller amounts? What rewards would you like to see? How can I cater to you in the best way possible to encourage you to become a part of this community?)
Current tier options (valid as of June 1, 2019):
$1/month - Rewards include my eternal gratitude and an exclusive photo of our kitty cats.
$5/month - Rewards include my eternal gratitude, an exclusive photo of our kitty cats, and early access to shop updates.
$25/month - Rewards include a 20% discount code for my website that never expires and will be valid for all future purchases as well as early access to shop updates.
$50/month - Rewards include 1 skein of an exclusive yarn color way shipped right to your door every month. You will also get early access to shop updates.
$100/month - Rewards include 2 skeins of an exclusive yarn color way shipped right to your door every month. You will also get early access to shop updates.
Patreon allows you to end your subscription at any time free-of-charge, so if you want to sign up for a month or two and then cancel your pledge, that is totally ok too!
Patrons will receive a financial report at the end of every month where I outline in detail how much money was collected and how much was spent (either on Patreon fees, materials costs, shipping, etc.) so that you can see exactly where your money is going. This also gives you the opportunity to provide feedback about how money is being spent - this is a community-funded project after all! You totally get a say.
So...how will this actually work?
I will create a page on my website specifically for this community-funded yarn. There will be updates on the first of every month to coincide with when Patreon collects payments. All of the yarn in the update will cost $0.00. There will be an additional listing for a "pay what you can" option where you can essentially name your price for your yarn. You don't *have* to pay anything - the products will all have already been community-funded and are there for you to accept free-of-charge if you are comfortable doing so.
If you do choose to pay some money for your yarn, that just means that I will not have to use as much money from the Patreon pool to cover your order and there will be more money available for the next shop update. Simple as that! I want the shopping process to be as similar to a full-priced update as possible. I want it to be clear that I value each and every customer exactly the same, regardless of money spent.
I also want everyone to be able to get the yarn that they want, so if you are interested in purchasing some community-funded yarn but need larger sweater quantities or are really excited about a particular colorway, I would happily take requests via email if you feel comfortable sending that my way. I'm also happy to take feedback in this area as well. Everyone's privacy and comfort is of the utmost importance to me.
But perhaps most importantly, I am building this concept and this community around transparency, honesty, and trust. I will not be asking anyone to apply for the money, explain their financial situation to me, or prove their worthiness for these products in any way. I'm hoping that everyone that is attracted to join me here will also hold these values and that we can be confident that everyone participating is doing so honestly. The more people we can get to contribute to the Patreon, the more yarn I can provide and help lower that barrier to access.
Also, in case you are thinking, "I don't work with a lot of luxury yarn...but I still feel like this shouldn't be for me," - this is absolutely for you! This is for anybody and everybody (except racists, homophobes, fatphobes, and bigots....obvs).
I'm a small business owner that wants to get involved. How can I participate?
Well, first and foremost...if you want to contribute to the Patreon, that would be swell! If you create products of any kind (bags, pins, yarn, etc.), my current idea is twofold (feedback welcome!):
1) Buy your products from you wholesale (or discounted value of your choosing) using the Patreon funds which you would then ship to me at your own expense for me to include in the shop update
2) Accept products on commission. You would send me products free-of-charge and I would list them in the shop updates. If they get "sold" (putting this in parenthesis because the listings for all products charge $0.00), I would pay you wholesale price (or discounted value of your choosing) at that stage. If they do not sell after a few months, I would send the products back to you for you to then sell on to your own customers.
3) Option 3....a third idea that I haven't come up with yet that maybe some other business owners would like to suggest? Very open to suggestions!
On the livestream, I talked about donating some yarn and preparing for a trial run shop update in about 2-3 months. This will give us a great opportunity to see what works and what doesn't and where we want to go from here. This is also far enough in advance so I can gather as much insight and feedback from you all as possible (and ideally have a few more Patrons sign up?) before really forging ahead.
Current Questions/Potential Problem Areas
Should I charge for shipping?
Do we need an option for one-time donations?
What is the best way to involve international customers?
Do I need more low-value tiers on Patreon?
and perhaps most importantly...
Are there additional barriers to access that I haven't considered?
This whole concept seems like it wants to eventually be an entity separate from knitcraft & knittery operating as a not-for-profit. At the moment, that is not achievable for me with my limited access to funds and time. But I also have big dreams for this concept and want to see it grow into something great so this will be an ever-evolving project and I am continuously available for feedback/suggestions. (New business name suggestions are also welcome and encouraged!)
Please feel free to leave me a comment below or send me an email! I am in the process of creating a new email address for this concept specifically and will share that with you as soon as it's ready!